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The investment and regenerative value of addiction treatment

Steve Iafrati (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to show that despite welfare retrenchment and political rhetoric towards welfare, spending on residential addiction treatment should be protected.


Examining benefits in context of costs, the research used social return on investment to monetise benefits and compare with costs. Based at a residential addiction centre, the research used questionnaires and focus groups with residents and former residents.


The centre created almost £4 of benefit for every £1 of cost. Whilst the bulk of savings came from health, housing and criminal justice, there was also a regenerative impact for the local economy.

Research limitations/implications

Sampling in sensitive themes is always problematic, however, the research had contact with many respondents, achieved data saturation and used the centre's success rate as a guide to weight the findings.

Practical implications

The benefits of addiction treatment go beyond health outcomes and raise questions about how this should be reflected in cost distribution. Consequently, this has implications for the ways in which addiction services should be measuring their successes beyond solely health outcomes.

Social implications

Existing research has largely overlooked the benefit of addiction treatment to the local economy and the fact that, as an investment, this benefit will continue to grow as more people enter the labour market over time.


The research recognises the political context of funding and measures success beyond solely health outcomes. Furthermore, the research recognises the regenerative impact of addiction treatment, which is often overlooked in similar research.



The author is immensely grateful to the staff and service users at the residential centre at which the research was based. At all times, the author was provided with candid insights into people's lives, made to feel very welcome, and was privileged to be invited back to their leavers’ graduation day. The author is also grateful to the former residents and those in the Community Drug Team who were similarly helpful.


Iafrati, S. (2015), "The investment and regenerative value of addiction treatment", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 12-20.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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